Recently, a group member brought up religion. He shared that he’s made an observation when he talks to other people who have cancer. He feels that religion is often an indicator to how others are coping. Another group member immediately said, “I have too.” She then turned to me (the facilitator) and said, “But I thought we were not allowed to bring up religion in group.” I said that we can absolutely talk about religion as long as everyone is respectful of each other’s beliefs and differences, and as long as we don’t try to put our beliefs on to someone else. The group agreed.
This group member went on to say that when he talks to other people who are living with cancer, he notices that religion is a factor in how they are (or are not) coping. He feels that his religion has given him a foundation, and that he relies on his faith when he needs strength to get through a difficult situation. He shared that he’s aware of others coping well when they are connected religiously and/or spiritually; but when he talks to people who do not feel connected this way, they seem to struggle more with their diagnosis and uncertainty.
Religion and spirituality are unique to each individual and can have many meanings. Often they provide people with comfort, but not always.
Is religion/spirituality a factor in how you cope?
Is there something other than religion/spirituality that helps you through difficult/challenging times?
Is religion/spirituality difficult to connect to right now?
I look forward to continuing this important and (possibly) sensitive topic. Please know that there are no right or wrong feelings/thoughts/connections.
Stephanie Stern, LCSW-C is an oncology social worker and the moderator of The MetaCancer Foundation’s Mosaic Online Support Community.
The MetaCancer Foundation provides information and resources focused on the unique psychological and emotional aspects of living with metastatic cancer. Mosaic is a free online support service for people living with metastatic cancer and their loved ones.